Directed by former commercial and music director, Michael Bay, his first foray into features is a non-stop action movie with more than enough comedy to balance out its serious subject matter. George Gallo’s story was adapted for the screen by three different writers: Michael Barrie, Jim Mulholland and Doug Richardson.
Taking its cue from successful and hilarious films like 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop, Bad Boys is filled with entertaining and thrilling action sequences. This high-adrenaline crime drama stands out because it succeeds at truly integrating genuinely funny comedy sequences into the mix.
The story line involves two detectives, played by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, who have exactly three days to find $100 million worth of heroin being held by a crazed evil drug lord (Tcheky Karyo) in Miami. We are also treated to Joe Pantoliano as the loud-
mouthed police captain. Murder witness (Tea Leoni) and one of Smith’s best friends goes along for the frantic challenge. NBA star John Salley also makes a great cameo as a jailed computer hacker.
Also in the movie are some other great supporting characters. Sidekicks Sanchez and Ruiz, Mike’s doorman Chet and Michael Imperioli plays JoJo. With Joe Pantoliano, that makes two later to be Soprano’s alumni.
Reminiscent of the Odd Couple, Will Smith’s Mike Lowry is a heroic, suave, slick and very controlled ladies’ man. In contrast, Martin Lawrence’s suitably ordinary Marcus Burnett only manages to stumble along through work and married life.
The film’s success, to a large extent, is due to the undeniably comedic talents of both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Not only do they have an incredible chemistry, but it appears as though their improvisational abilities are allowed to flourish, as well.
For example, Michael Bay includes many curious interludes where Lawrence and Smith provide verbal riffs with streams of consciousness. They interrupt each other and finish each other’s sentences with snappy, fresh dialogue. It is such a natural tone that it adds value to their relationship and actually feels genuine. This is an accomplishment for a film of this type. Much of the time, cop buddy action movies seem acted strictly according to the script.
If the actors did not do as much improv as it appears, then the script is also beyond superb. The actors have the ability to deliver dialogue that could be seen as insensitive, but they finesse it well enough to be acceptable within the context of the film. This makes a nice combination of suspense tempered with humor, making it more believable as a whole.
As a pure action film, the movie never stops but the scenes are never blown out of proportion. Michael Bay’s close-up slow-motion sequences, which have become his trademark, are quite impressive. These are all the hallmarks of an excellent action genre film.
The film is perfect from a technical standpoint. The vivid energy in the cinematography by Howard Atherton is stunning. The dusty light exhibiting a dirtier and more run down view of Miami is highly effective for the storytelling.
Michael Bay’s camera angles moved right along with the characters, which made it seem like the equipment was especially designed for that purpose. Christian Wagner’s editing on this movie is phenomenal. The style, grace and high energy in which it was created displays a frequent inventiveness. The score by Mark Mancini is a perfect accompaniment for the entire movie, including the nicely framed fight and chase sequences.
This film is not trying to be what it is not. It is an action movie, and it is apparent by how it was shot. Bad Boys does not simply fling the occasional action sequence about, it actually meets the expectations of this genre, using those scenes to help tell the story. Michael Bay’s technique is what sets the movie apart from other films in the genre, because it goes above and beyond.